All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Beeches in Trouble

Maine's beeches are dying at an alarming rate with more than 40% lost in just the last few years.
The culprit is Beech Disease. It's actually a tiny insect that grows and causes cankers on the bark. The illness has been in Maine since the 1930's, but it hasn't been a major problem until recently. Researchers believe a severe drought in 2001 further weakened the trees.

"What we've gotten used to for the last 70 years is beech gets the disease like this, gets the pocket cankers but survives, but that's actually a problem. You get a lot of diseased trees occupying the forest, where you prefer to have healthy trees," said Professor Bill Livingston. [Link]
Though, as Livingston says, the beech is not important to the forest industry in Maine, beechnuts are an important part of the diets of turkeys, bears, squirrels, and other critters.

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